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The Lady Samurai of the RKC Dojo

Updated: Aug 19

Onna-bugeisha or Lady Samurai's

Since 2015, the RKC Dojo has introduced the Japanese martial arts of Kendo, Iaido and Jodo to many women in South Africa.

The obvious benefits of doing the martial arts over a prolong period include improved fitness, increased mental focus, and inspiration to work on one's own personal development.

The concepts of of FOCUS, FUN and FAMILY are very distinctive principles that the RKC Dojo and it's members bring to each training sessions.

Here are a few comments by the "Onna-bugeisha", or Lady Samurai's of our dojo:

Aura Kendo

"The core principles, focus, fun and family. RKC has always been a very big part of my teenage years, most of the people in the dojo have seen me grow and develop as a person. At RKC I believe that we are a family because we spend so much time together as a dojo. Kendo has helped me in all aspects of my life because when I had first started I was a very unfocused kid but as the years have gone on, I have started coming to a deeper understanding of being present, calm and focused."

- Aura N., Junior South African National Kendo Team Member

Shasika S Kendo

""To know the way of the sword, is to know yourself" as a basic tenet of Kendo is essentially what appealed to me and propelled me to join the RKC Dojo. As you are your only real competition, and the enemy to beat is you, the principle of focus then forces me to constantly push myself to be better than I was the day before - not just in the practice and training of Kendo, but in managing all aspects of my life.

Naturally, my dojo family is fast becoming an extension of my biological family; the Sempais and Senseis are always willing to assist and guide across all activities whether it is the practice of the fundamental solo movements or the pattern of movements with a partner. I am looking forward to eventually being in bogu and practicing full contact sparring.

I am learning that Kendo is a way of life and beyond the clinical advantages associated with physical, mental and spiritual benefits, at the end of the day, one must experience the joy and fun associated with the sport. I am learning to associate the pain and discipline of training to the joy of seeing myself get better, and that makes me happy and thankful that I am able to participate in this art." - Shasika S; Head of Digital Channels @ African Bank

"Training at RKC has brought all three these principles into my life from an angle that would have never entered into my life in any other way. I've made friends i consider family now. Coming to the dojo can be the best part of my day, laughing together with people from all walks of life with a mutual interest and goal creates a training environment that can switch between light-hearted fun and laughter to serious focus and disciplined training.

It just gives me all the more reasons to want to go back to training" - Demz VD.

"Doing Iaido really challenges you and you have to focus on what you are doing. You have to leave all your worries and issues at the door. Iaido has helped me get through a very tough time in my life. I have made some really good friends and had some good  clean fun." - Pippa S.

"For me Iaido is an art for a women who's in the process of learning to know, accept & love herself on all levels Mind, Body & spirit it's an divine art for a personal growth, self awareness and confidence." - Sunakshi R.

"Joining the RKC Dojo has given me the perfect sense of balance and fulfilment I didn’t know I needed. The missing piece to my fitness puzzle. Iaido is a great workout, everybody is so helpful and welcoming, and I leave feeling like I’ve been to an amazing therapy session. I couldn’t have chosen a better practice to join ." - Terri DP.

"As a newcomer to Kendo, I've quickly realized that a strong sense of belonging exists. It's reminiscent of being welcomed into a family, where everyone looks out for one another. Qualified members act as mentors, guiding me on this journey of growth. This shared experience and support mirror the values of a healthy family creating a positive environment for growth." - Umita S., Winner of Empress South Africa 2022

"Kendo has been the highlight of my year. It’s given me something to look forward to every week and I’ve met the kindest and most respectful people there. I’ve felt the motivation to pursue other life goals because of Kendo, I’ve had so much fun in the dojo and I feel like I’ve found another place I belong. It can be nerve-racking to try something new but all it’s been so far is exciting and challenging in the best way. I’m really happy I decided to take the leap 😁🌸!" - Delisa G.

"The principle of FOCUS, with its emphasis on concentration, discipline, and precision, serves as the cornerstone for achieving mastery within this art form. The meticulous dedication to refining these attributes ultimately lays the groundwork for attaining success.

The incorporation of FUN into the training regimen introduces a layer of vibrancy to the otherwise rigorous routines. The infusion of enjoyment into the learning process. There is a contagious positivity that emanates from the fun factor that contributes to the creation of a nurturing environment that benefits all participants.

"When I first joined Kendo, I was quite unsure of myself and I wasn’t physically fit at the time. I knew that it was going to be a hard but my senseis and sempais reminded me everyone’s journey is different and it would require a lot of patience and focus. “The hardest part of your kendo journey is showing up at training,” Warren Ho Sensei’s words still echo in my head till this day. His advice was if you make it to training, it is just not about mindlessly swinging your Shinai but FOCUSING on your body, mind and spirit. This has developed my kendo and has aided in both my Shiai and Shinsa.

Our dojo honestly has some of most interesting and fun people to be around. Whether young or old, it is never a dull moment. As we strive to work hard, we also play hard as well. Our second core principle is having FUN in order to have balance in our training. We do lots of fun activities in and out of the dojo that encourages us to socialise, learn and build stronger relationships.

Being a part of the RKC feels like being part of one big diverse family with lots of brothers, sisters and uncles. As an introvert and a socially awkward person, I never imagined myself being so chatty and excited to leave the house for training. From birthday celebrations to checking in on you when you’re feeling under the weather, the RKC family truly makes you feel at home.

As one of the RKC kendo ladies, it is quite the privilege and honour to be part of a dojo that has great values and stays true to its core principles. It has helped shape me as a person and how I conduct myself both inside and outside of the dojo." - LIsa C., Winner of the 2022 Women's Competition at the Annual Sefor Cup Tournament.

"I have been practising kendo for little over a year now. In an interview for RKC’s Women’s Month 2022 I said that my first impression of the martial art was that it was “intense”, and a year later my feelings have not changed!

Kendo, in all of its competitiveness and intensity, has made a tremendous impact on my life in terms of self-confidence, discipline, and strength (both physically and mentally). The community that surrounds this sport is one which I find nurturing and kind, and is familial in many senses of the word. The Senseis and Sempais are always willing to answer questions that I have and provide feedback when needed, and they are always gracious about it.

Kendo has contributed so positively to my life so far, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the journey goes!" - Shakti D.

"Doing kendo has benefitted me in many ways that’s not only physical but mental. Being a younger female in the community actually gives me space to look up and admire the women of kendo and allows me get an idea of what I aspire to be. Our dojo is a safe space where I feel comfortable training with everyone as a family, where everyone is welcomed in a fun but disciplined environment. Kendo has taught me discipline and structure which I can apply to my everyday life and helps me realise that being a younger women does not limit my abilities and I am able to do what I believe I can do." - Tyler N.

Warren Ho in Kendo uniform
Photo by Stéphane Benoît

"Over the years, our dojo has had the privilege of welcoming some amazing women to our dojo and introduce them to the Japanese martial arts of Kendo, Iaido and Jodo! Those who have committed to their training have transformed into fierce, courageous and confident warriors, or as they are known back in the days of the samurai, "Onna-bugeisha"!

As their sensei, it has been extremely rewarding being alongside them as they walk this martial arts path and seeing their development. Some take a straight and narrow path, while others enjoy the winding road and scenery along the way. Regardless, the most important part of that journey is taking that first step.

I do get some unique challenges that pertain only to these onna-bugeisha! Challenges that as a man, I can only theorise on how to overcome. However, through research and working through these challenges with them, I too feel I have grown to become better sensei! In these cases, the student becomes my sensei.

Our dojo is FOCUSED on training while having FUN, and making sure that everyone feels part of our dojo family! I do believe that it is our principles of FOCUS, FUN and FAMILY, that are the cornerstones to our success.

I look forward to welcoming many more onna-bugeisha to our dojo in future!" - Warren HO, Head Sensei of the RKC Dojo


The Ryū Ken Chi (RKC) Dojo train the traditional Japanese martial arts of Kendo and Iaido (sword-based martial arts), as well as Jodo (the art of the short staff), that encourages the cultivation of the human character.

Kendo Kid is also available for children aged 6-11 years old.

RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY. Online training is also available.

Please follow us on our various social media platforms:



Instagram: @rkc_dojo

TikTok: rkcdojo



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